#BlogCamp14

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Lessons From BarCampGhana '08

I know that by now my avid readers would be on the verge of dying from thirst due to the fact that, over the past two months, there have been no new entries on The Gamelian World. I am extremely sorry for this apparent desertion but let it be on record that, over the course of the past few months, i had to attend to other equally pressing engagements. Today's entry, as appropriately titled, is a tribute to youthful initiative and how such endeavours would inevitable spur the development agenda of Ghana and Africa.

On 22nd December 2008, i was part the group that participated in BarCampGhana. For starters, a barcamp is an unstructured gathering of people, an un-conference where people share ideas on topical issues. This is markedly different from a regular conference where experts hold sway on all issues under discussion. The organisers of the event envisaged it to be a gathering of like minded people in science, technology and business to discuss and interact in a fun environment. One theme that run throughout the deliberations was Ghana's place in the global scheme of things. The programme largely met its objectives and hold significant learning points for all aspiring future leaders.

Firstly that young people with the required initiative and drive can achieve whatever they put their mind to. The programme itself was put together by young Ghanaians who had the vision of advancing the use of technology in various spheres of Ghanaian life, in order to bring about the development we've all been yearning for. Similarly, some of the great innovations put on the table were from home-based young technology entrepreneurs-another pointer that the realisation of the dreams of young people is a possibility in this country.

Another key learning point from BarCampGhana is the need for the adoption of a progressive approach to doing things. Typical conferences have been criticised for not producing the requisite results because of disengagement of the audience at certain points of the event. One feature of BarCampGhana were the break out sessions. These sessions featured diverse discussions points that allowed participants to join any discussion of their choice. This ultimately promoted an atmosphere of engagement, contribution, learning and idea-generation. The point i want to make is that in the future, event organisers should not only stick to the way things are known to be done but to involve some level of flexibility and versatility.

A final learning point from BarCampGhana was the manner in which time was respected. This broke the perennial jinx of poor time management that plague most Ghanaian events. The event started on time and most of the key note speakers turned up. This only goes to show that Ghanaians' disrespect for time is something that we can easily overcome if we continue to demand of ourselves the highest standards when it comes to time management.

The only slight hitch of course was that the "big men and women" themselves did not show up at the time they were supposed to, begging consideration due to the pressure that mounts on them when the close of the year approaches. The negative consequence of the above is that their experienced perspectives were missing during most of the break out sessions. The organisers could make it a point to "be on them" and get them to come at the right time next year.

Putting the above together, BarCampGhana has been a shiny example of how youth initiative is on the verge of spurring massive development through technology in Africa, there are many lessons to be learnt from such proactivity, and the elderly generation must lend a hand to these efforts in order to support the young ones.

In praising the developments that took place at BarCampGhana, let me put on record that the exciting ideas that were brought to the fore at the event should not end on the floors of the venue as we have seen time and time again in Ghana. We must all make the effort of ensuring that these dreams are brought to life. Again, we must also take the message of BarCampGhana, as wished by the organisers, to the various communities in Ghana. This is to ensure that science technology and business are appropriately seen and utilised as the drivers of wealth and development in modern society.